Entry 43: A Fruitful Endeavour

Hello Koala fans,

I’ve made quite a few different cakes on here but as I look back through the list (and I really, *really* need to add an index for all of this stuff >.>), there is one rather glaring omission: fruit cake. This is kind of odd because I was fond of fruit cake when I was younger, so you’d think it’d have been high on my priorities. So at long last, I’ve finally gotten around to fixing this oversight. Today’s recipe was one I originally spotted in a celebrity chef recipe book but, thanks to the magic of the interwebs, I found a duplicate online:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/138098/recipe/porter-cake

My friends at work had been quite supportive of me recently, so I decided they would be the recipients of this week’s baking. Whether they would be lucky or unlucky recipients was still to be determined. In order to make a porter cake, first of all you need to abduct a hospital porter, which is handy given where I work, then you need a large meat grinder…..

"Or, as an alternative, this stuff."

“Or, as an alternative, this stuff.”

The porter is the can of Guinness in the photo. Apparently, this is the correct term for it rather than beer or ale. If memory serves, this isn’t the first time I’ve used Guinness while baking but I can’t remember for the life of me what the other recipe was. In this instance, I can see how it would work; you soak the various types of fruit in the Guinness so that they take on some of the flavour, in addition to giving the raisins, etc a little extra moistness. The recipe also calls for orange juice as well – there’s a world of difference between true fresh squeezed orange juice and the stuff that you get in supermarkets and given that we need orange zest in the cake, we may as well use the juice from the oranges too:

"How long do I need to keep jumping up and down on this thing for?"

“How long do I need to keep jumping up and down on this thing for?”

One of the advantages of porter cake is that it can be done with a minimal number of bowls and pans. You begin by adding your dried fruit to a large saucepan:

Keeping up to date on currant events.

Keeping up to date on currant events.

…and then proceed to dump almost everything else in there as well; the butter, sugar, booze and orange juice. The net result is something that almost looks like a fruit based soup or casserole:

There's an awfully large amount of liquid in here...

There’s an awfully large amount of liquid in here…

I was starting to panic a little at this point. The recipe doesn’t exactly call for a mountain of flour, so I was worried that the cake batter would be very runny. Once the mixture was starting to boil though, it was a very different matter.

"We're going outside for a bit while you carry on...."

“We’re going outside for a bit while you carry on….”

The smell that was coming from the pan was *incredible*. It was a rich, fruity smell with spicy tones, tangy zest from the oranges, the smell of freshly mown grass- wait, what?

Grand Theft Lawnmower.

Grand Theft Lawnmower.

Luckily for me, the joyriding trio stopped just short of Mum’s flower beds. As we made our way back to the kitchen, the fruit mixture in the saucepan was ready to have the final ingredients added to it. By this point, a lot of the fluid had boiled away, so although it was still a lot more runny than my other cake mixtures, it started to look “workable”. The flour was slowly stirred in and the Koalas offered to help with the eggs.

They were egg-stremely sorry for almost wrecking the garden.

They were egg-stremely sorry for almost wrecking the garden.

One other difference between porter cake and most others is the length of time it takes to bake. Most cakes usually stay in the oven for about 30-40 minutes on a high temperature. With this one, it needed a very low temperature (Gas Mark 2/130*C) for one and a half hours. Even then, I left in the oven for an extra 30 minutes as the centre failed the spike test. I left it in the baking tin for journey home to make it easier to carry, plus the extra heat from the tin would continue to bake the cake gently.

"Leaving it in the tin also makes it more porter-ble!"

“Leaving it in the tin also makes it more porter-ble!”

The cake went down really well with the folks at work; I received quite a lot of positive feedback about it. The slice I tried was firm enough to pick up, with the sponge being moist and light. Its different to something like a Christmas cake, where the sponge is often extremely dense and sits on the stomach like a bowling ball.

The rapidly disappearing cake.

The rapidly disappearing cake.

I’m pleased with how well the porter cake turned out but its definitely not something you could do at the last minute. Perhaps the next time I have a long weekend, I might make another one. =)